The Clean Label Project is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to educating consumers about the products they regularly purchase and find on grocery store shelves. There is so little transparency between government regulations, food corporations, and the American public that it can be maze trying to determine what certain food labels mean. The Clean Label Project is an unbiased, science-based organization that is specifically interested in testing products to determine toxins not listed on the label, something that they believe the FDA does not thoroughly regulate toxin management from start to finish.
So what does this have to do with baby food? The Clean Label Project recently completed a study of 500 top- selling baby food products and infant formulas from 60 brands. The organization uses a "third-party laboratory partner to blind test products for a list of 130 toxins and contaminants, including heavy metals, antiobiotics, BPA/BPS, and pesticide-residues that are not identified on labels but are prevalent in food and consumer products."
From there, they implement a five-star rating system based on how they perform to the rest of their industry competitors. This translates into an overall product score. Here are the initial findings, broken into an infographic.
Let's run through the results. Unfortunately, the Clean Label Project found that 80 percent of baby formulas contained arsenic, which is dangerous to children's cognitive growth, motor skills, and heart development.
Additionally, more than one-third of the popular baby foods tested contained led, and about 60 percent contained cadmium, another harmful metal. To review the full methodology of the study, check it out here.
These are the best five baby cereals you can buy.
1. Happy Baby Oatmeal Organic Probiotic Baby Cereal
2. Beech-Nut Stage 2 Oatmeal & Mixed Fruit Baby Cereal Muesli
3. Beech-Nut Stage 1 Single Grain Oatmeal Baby Cereal
4. Beech-Nut Stage 2 Multigrain Baby Cereal
5. Little Duck Organics Mighty Oats Cereal 5 Ancient Grains Naked Cereal
And the worst five baby cereals out there.
1. Healthy Times Special Nourish Organic Brown Rice Cereal for Baby
2. Organix Raspberry & Banana Muesli
3. Gerber DHA & Probiotic Rice Cereal with Vitablocks
4. Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal
5. Parent's Choice 1st Stage Rice Baby Cereal
There are the best five infant formulas you can buy.
1. Baby's Only Dairy Organic Non-GMO Toddler Formula
2. Enfamil Enspire Milk Based Powder Infant Formula with Iron
3. Enfamil Gentlease Milk-based with Iron Ready to Use Infant Formula
4. Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic Ready to Feed Infant Formula with Iron
5. Similac Pro-Advance-OptiGro Milk Based Ready to Feed Infant Formula with Iron
And these are the worst five.
1. Peaceful Planet Toddler Supreme Natural Vanilla Organically Grown Rice Dietary Supplement
2. Abbott EleCare Hypoallergenic Amino Acid Based Powder infant Formula with Iron
3. Enfamil Reguline Milk-based Powder with Iron Infant Formula
4. Happy Tot Grow & Shine Organic Toddler Milk Drink
5. Comforts for Toddler Stage 2 - Toddler Beginnings Milk Based Powder Infant Formula with Iron
These are the best five jar meals you can buy.
1. Earth's Best Stage 3- Organic Tender Chicken & Stars Chunky Blend
2. Pure Spoon Purees Butternut Squash, Apple & Oats Puree
3. Earth's Best Stage 2- Organic Vegetable Turkey Dinner
4. Gerber Breakfast Buddies Apple Cinnamon Hot Cereal with Real Fruit
5. Gerber Breakfast Buddies Peach Hot Cereal with Real Fruit
And these are the worst.
1. Gerber 3rd Foods Banana Apple Strawberry with Lil' Bits
2. O Organics Stage 2- Organic Pears Baby Food
3. NurturMe Squash, Banana and Green Kale Organic Dried Baby Food
4. NurturMe Carrots, Raisins and Sweet Potatoes Organic Dried Baby Food
5. Gerber 3rd Foods Mixed Carrots, Corn and Butternut Squash with Lil' Bits
These are the best five juice drinks you can buy.
1. Orgain Kids Protein Strawberry Organic Nutritional Shake
2. Orgain Kids Protein Vanilla Organic Nutritional Shake
3. Ella's Kitchen Coconut + Milk with Banana, Apricot + Raisin Nutritional Shake
4. Ella's Kitchen Coconut + Milk with Broccoli, Plums + Pears Nutritional Shake
5. Ella's Kitchen Superrr Sweet Potato + Mango Smoothie Drink
And these are the worst five.
1. Gerber Apple Prune Juice from Concentrate
2. Doctor Rachs Kidz Shake Chocolate Cream Dietary Supplement
3. Gerber Apple Carrot Blend Juice from Concentrate
4. Up & Up Chocolate Pediatric Shake
5. Gerber 100% Juice Mixed Fruit Juice from Concentrate
These are the best five pouches you can buy.
1. Earth's Best Stage 2 - Organic Squash and Sweet Peas Baby Food Puree
2. Yummy Spoonfuls Only Peas 100% Organic Baby Food
3. Babies "R" Us Stage 2- Purely Simple Organic Pear, Zucchini, Kale with Millet Smooth Baby Food Puree
4. Babies "R" Us Stage 2 - Purely Simple Organic Peach, Kale & Pear Smooth Baby Food Puree
5. Sprout Stage 2 Banana, Plum, Blueberry, Quinoa Organic Baby Food
And these are the worst.
1. Plum Organics Stage 2 Apple & Carrot Organic Baby Food
2. Gerber Graduates- Grabbers Apple & Sweet Potato with Cinnamon Squeezable Fruit & Veggies
3. Earth's Best Stage 2- Organic Apple Raisin Flax & Oat Wholesome Breakfast
4. Parent's Choice 2nd Stage Banana, Pear, Mango & Orange Organic Baby Food
5. Mom to Mom Stage 2 Butternut Squash & Pear Baby Food
These are the five best snacks you can buy.
1. Kiddylicious Banana Bites
2. Comforts for Toddler Banana Yogurt Bite
3. Happy Baby Organic Yogis Banana
4. Gerber Yogurt Blends Banana Vanilla Snack
5. Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts Strawberry Freeze-Dried Yogurt & Fruit Snacks
And these are the five worst.
1. Happy Baby Organic Teethers Sweet Potato and Banana Gentle Teething Wafers
2. Parent's Choice Little Puffs Blueberry Cereal Snack
3. Little Duck Organics Strawberry & Beet Fig Bars
4. Nosh! Baby Munchables Pomegranate and Blueberry Organic Teething Wafers
5. Gerber Graduates Lil' Biscuits Vanilla Wheat Biscuits
Brand Report Cards
Additionally, the Clean Label Project also releases report cards for popular brands tested. We've selected just a handful of the most common brands, but encourage you to head over to Clean Label Project to see the rest.
Up & Up
Isn't it interesting how some Gerber products can rank as the best, and in the same category still register as the worst, too? It makes you think about certain factory locations and standards across a company's entire production system.
The entire study is a must-read, and all concerned families should do so. It's fascinating what slips through the cracks in production and manufacturing. Though of course no threat can be fully eradicated and it does cost more money to eat well, this information is pertinent. Share this with your friends and family!